Fight Week: Joe Joyce will try to maintain momentum against Zhilei Zhang


Top heavyweight contender Joe Joyce will return to the ring against Zhilei Zhang on Saturday in London, Joyce’s hometown.

JOE JOYCE (15-0, 14 KOS)
ZHILEI ZHANG (24-1-1, 19 KOS)

When: Saturday, April 15
Time: 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (main event later in show)
Where: Copper Box Arena, London
TV/Stream: ESPN+ (BT Sport in U.K.)
Division: Heavyweight (no limit)
At stake: No major titles
Pound-for-pound ranking: None
Odds: Joyce 7½-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)
Also on the card: Mikaela Mayer vs. Christina Linardatou, lightweights; Denzel Bentley vs. Kieran Smith, middleweights; Sam Noakes vs. Karthik Sathish Kumar, lightweights
Prediction: Joyce KO 7
Background: Joe Joyce is expected to take another step toward his first heavyweight title shot on Saturday. The hulking, hard-punching heavyweight is coming off the most important victory of his career, an 11th-round knockout of former titleholder Joseph Parker in September. That victory left no doubt that he’s one of the top big men in the world. He has stopped his last five opponents, including fellow contender Daniel Dubois in another breakthrough in November 2020. Joyce is the WBO’s “interim” titleholder, meaning he’s first in line to face champion Oleksandr Usyk. The 37-year-old Londoner, an Olympic silver medalist 2016, believes he’s ready to face any heavyweight in the world. Zhang also had a notable amateur career, winning a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics and taking part in the 2012 Games. The southpaw from China has won consistently but his professional career has never taken off, which makes the opportunity to face Joyce particularly significant for him. He drew with Jerry Forrest in February 2021, which seemed to expose his limitations. However, he bounced back to beat journeymen Craig Lewis and Scott Alexander and then made a strong statement by giving unbeaten contender Filip Hrgovic all he could handle in a close setback this past August.




Tervel Pulev vs. Joel Shojgreen, cruiserweights, Costa Mesa, California (FITE)


Rene Santiago vs. Carlos Ortega, junior flyweights, Panama City, Panama (ESPN+)
Omar Cande Trinidad vs. Adan Ochoa, featherweights, Commerce, California (UFC Fight Pass)


Panya Pradabsri vs. Yudai Shigeoka, strawweights (for Pradabsri’s WBC title), Tokyo (No TV in U.S.)

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